President Trump unveiled the new Space Force logo on Friday and critics have been quick to point out its similarities with the Starfleet logo.
On Friday, January 24, President Trump unveiled the new Space Force logo on Twitter. In the accompanying tweet, the president stated that the logo had been created in consultation with military leaders, designers, and “others”.
Almost immediately after the release of the logo, commentators on Twitter began to point out the new logo’s similarity to one used in the popular Star Trek franchise. Both logos are round, prominently feature a central delta symbol with an orbital flight path surrounding it, and the name of the organisation on its border. The similarities are so striking that original series Star Trek star George Takei tweeted, “Ahem. We are expecting some royalties from this…”
The reality of the similarities is, however, significantly more complex. The original Star Trek logo was created by the costume designer of the original series, William Ware Theiss in 1964. When creating the logo, Theiss drew inspiration from the NASA logo which featured a more abstract delta symbol in addition to the iconic orbital flight path.
The next key element to the puzzle is the Air Force Space Command logo created in 1982. This logo featured a central delta symbol, two orbital flight paths, a stylized planet, and stars. However, instead of a round patch, this logo is built on a basic shield and scroll shape. Here the delta symbol is more reminiscent of the Star Trek symbol but the shape ensures it does not attract the same comparisons.
Finally, it is important to note that the United States armed forces draw inspiration from the logo of the unit/military branch that is being replaced when creating a new logo. As a result, when creating the Space Force logo, designers utilised the delta symbol, the stylized planet, and the stars from the Air Force Space Command logo, and the orbital flight path from the NASA logo in a round “mission patch” shape. The shape is not unique and is almost universally used in mission patch applications. The design path to the Space Logo is, as a result, not difficult to follow.
It is hard to say for sure whether or not the Space Force designers were implicitly or even unconsciously inspired by the Starfleet logo. However, in an industry that utilises a very narrow design language, similarities are bound to occur.
The delta symbol that is such a key element of the Starfleet logo, for instance, is featured in no fewer than three other national space program logos. Russia’s Roscosmos, the Indian Space Research Organisation, and the China National Space Administration logos all feature the symbol prominently.